Tag Archives: Radio History

Radio Waves: The Barbed Wire Comms Line, FCC Denies AM Appeal, Raspberry Pi Radio Astronomy, and Interview with Dick Smith

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors Paul, Dennis Dura, Dan Van Hoy, Alokesh Gupta,  and the Southgate ARC for the following tips:


Atrocious but efficient: How ranchers used barbed wire to make phone calls (Texas Standard)

A barbed wire telephone call didn’t sound great but could quickly warn others about something such as a wildfire.

Historian J. Evetts Haley wrote that, in its time, the old XIT Ranch up in the Texas Panhandle was “probably the largest fenced range in the world.” He recalled that its barbed wire enclosed over 3 million acres of land. At the north end alone, the fence ran for 162 miles. The unique enclosure helped keep in enormous cattle herds, keep out rustlers, and also gave rise to the creative use of a new technology: the telephone.

I’ll come back to the XIT in a moment, but first, consider these smattering of reports from that era. In 1897, The Electrical Review, reported that “on a ranch in California, telephone communication had been established between the various camps . . . by means of barbed wire fences.” The article says the novel use of the phone was a great success and was being used in Texas as well. That same year, the New England Journal of Agriculture was impressed that two Kansas farmers, living a mile apart, had attached fine telephone instruments to the barbed wire fence that connects their places and established easy communication. From the Butte Intermountain in 1902 we see this notice: “Fort Benton’s latest development is a barbed wire telephone communication.” The article points out that people of the range were not all that happy with barbed wire, which they thought was an “evil” that had arrived with the railroad, but they had decided to look at the practical side of its existence and use it to create a telephone exchange that would connect all the ranches to Fort Benton. [Continue reading…]

FCC Says No to Appeal for a New AM in L.A. (Radio World)

Schwab Multimedia has lost an appeal to the Federal Communications Commission in a case involving a planned AM station near Los Angeles for which it had a construction permit.

This is a “tolling” case, one that involves the FCC construction clock. The history is complex — the FCC’s summary is 2,500 words long, not counting many extended footnotes — but the upshot is that KWIF in Culver City was never built and, barring further developments, apparently will not be. Its call sign has now been deleted.

Levine/Schwab Partnership, which does business as Schwab Multimedia, had applied in 2004 to build a new AM station in the Los Angeles area. It eventually secured a CP in 2016 for the station at 1500 kHz. [Continue reading at Radio World…]

Radio Astronomy with Raspberry Operating System (Glen Langston)

Check out this fascinating radio astronomy project by Glen Langston that is not only affordable, but quite accessible. Thank you for the tip, Paul!

This article is in PDF form and can be downloaded from with this link.

Dick Smith Live: Adventuring, Electronics & Amateur Radio (Ham Radio DX on YouTube)

Dick Smith, VK2DIK has lived an adventurous and extraordinary life. He is a proud Australian, businessman, adventurer, entrepreneur and he single handedly changed electronics and CB/Amateur Radio in Australia.

Dick has recently released his autobiography titled, Dick Smith: My Adventurous Life and tonight we’re privileged to sit down live with Dick, speaking to him about his adventures, including the first solo helicopter flight around the world, his business ventures and being a pioneer for Amateur and CB radio.


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Experimental Station WI2XLQ will recreate 1906 Fessenden transmissions again this Holiday season

Canadian Reginald Aubrey Fessenden in his lab believed circa 1906 (Source: Radio Canada International)

(Source: ARRL News)

Experimental Station will Recreate 1906 Fessenden Transmissions

Experimental station WI2XLQ will be on the air on 486 kHz AM for the Reginald Fessenden commemorative transmission. Brian Justin, WA1ZMS, is the licensee. He will transmit for 24 hours starting at 2000 UTC on December 24, with a repeat transmission starting at 2000 UTC on December 31. Justin will use a homebrew 1921-era MOPA exciter with Heising modulation, followed by a modern 500-W linear. The transmission will be the same as in past years — two violin pieces that Fessenden claims to have played as one of the very first voice transmissions from his Brant Rock, Massachusetts, radio lab site. “While doubt remains that such a transmission ever took place, Fessenden did perform some crude voice transmissions over a few miles distance in early December near Washington, DC, as a demonstration for the US Navy,” Justin said. “So, perhaps some credit is due Fessenden for his efforts to transmit the human voice in an era of spark transmissions.”

If you would like more information about Brian Justin and WI2XLQ, check out our interview with him in 2013. Indeed, I successfully heard the 2013 WG2XFG broadcast and posted this audio clip on the Shortwave Radio Audio Archive.

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BBC Newshour and the first shortwave Transatlantic Tests

Former BBC World Service HQ – The Bush House

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributors, Doug and Kris, who both share a link to BBC Newshour which was broadcast yesterday (Dec 12, 2021).

The final segment of the show focuses on the birth of international shortwave radio and the first Transatlantic tests. You can listen to this report over the next month via the BBC Sounds website. This is the final piece in Newshour and starts at the 45:05 mark. Very much worth your time!

Click here to listen to this segment on BBC Sounds (starting at 45:05).

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Radio Waves: X-Class Flare & Halloween CME, Ham Callsign History, 2/3 UK Listeners Now Digital, AM/FM Until 2030, and Rampisham’s New Plan

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!


Significant X-class solar flare (Southgate ARC)

There was a global eruption on the sun today. It started with a powerful X1-class solar flare from sunspot AR2887.

The blast created a massive tsunami of plasma in the sun’s atmosphere, which rippled across the entire solar disk. A CME is probably heading for Earth, raising the possibility of a geomagnetic storm on Halloween. More information and updates @ Spaceweather.com.

Solar Flare Alerts: Sign up for Space Weather Alerts and get instant text notifications when solar flares are underway.

History of the Ham Radio Callsign (Southgate ARC)

In this video Mike Ritz W7VO looks at the history of amateur radio call signs in the United States

Every legal amateur radio operator in the world has a unique callsign assigned to them by their government, and many of us are better known by our callsign than our given name. But what world event was it that caused these monikers to be? Why are they constructed the way they are? Continue reading

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CN Radio: Early entertainment for railroad travelers

Photo by Adam Bixby on UnsplashMany thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Edward Kusalik, who shares the following:

An interesting article appeared in the recent publication of the Canora Chronicle (Camrose Railway Museum /Historic Society) dealing with early historic facts/details/articles of Rail History in my area.

It talks about how passengers were able to listen to the radio on a train:

Thank you so much for sharing this, Edward! Fascinating!

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Radio Waves: Radio Bulgaria Online, Small Town Station is Backbone of Community, 1949 Radio Contact, and BBC World Service Performance Review

Photo by Flickt user Shirokazan via Wikimedia Commons.

Radio Waves:  Stories Making Waves in the World of Radio

Because I keep my ear to the waves, as well as receive many tips from others who do the same, I find myself privy to radio-related stories that might interest SWLing Post readers.  To that end: Welcome to the SWLing Post’s Radio Waves, a collection of links to interesting stories making waves in the world of radio. Enjoy!


Hear the voice of Bulgaria – in 9 languages from Radio Bulgaria (Radio Bulgaria)

On the website of the Bulgarian National Radio – www.bnr.bg you can now listen to the new podcast of Radio Bulgaria, “Bulgaria Today” in English, German, French, Spanish, Russian, Serbian, Greek, Albanian and Turkish.

BNR has resumed its programmes in foreign languages after a 5-year pause. The change coincides with the 85th anniversary of the first foreign-language broadcasts for foreign audiences celebrated by Radio Bulgaria in 2021. Continue reading

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Sam found where genealogy and radio meet

Many thanks to SWLing Post contributor, Sam Alcom (KB3DFJ), who shares the following guest post:


Genealogy and radio meet

by Sam Alcom (KB3DFJ)

Who knew two of my hobbies – genealogy and radio – would joyfully collide in such an unexpected way?

My grandfather died in the 1950s when I was just a few months old, so I didn’t know him, let alone have some misty recollection of him. Seemingly, our only connection was the DNA bloodline though my father.

But as I dove into my family’s history, one web search led me to William H. Alcorn and 3ADJ. What the heck was 3ADJ? I dug deeper and found Amateur Radio Stations of the United States, U.S. Department of Commerce, Radio Division from June 30, 1924. Both of us were hams!

He was licensed as amateur radio station 3ADJ in Port Norris, N.J. with authorization to operate up to 50 watts.

I found him and his 3ADJ callsign again listed in 1925 in the Department of Commerce, Bureau of Navigation, Radio Service publication. The “3” in his sign threw me for a brief loop, but I learned that in the early days of radio Southern New Jersey was part of the third call district along with Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, certain counties of Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia.

The worldradiohistory.com website, a goldmine for anyone delving into all aspects of broadcasting’s past, led me to more publications where I spied my grandfather in the late fall 1925 edition of Radio Listeners’ Guide and Call Book and the 1926 edition of Citizens’ Radio Call Book and Complete Radio Cyclopedia.

The last radio trace I find was in the June 30, 1927, edition of the Amateur Callbook.

It was around this time that the U.S.  began using “W” to start callsigns and I wondered if my grandfather continued with his radio hobby under the new designation. I looked up W2ADJ and found William Czak of West Brighton, N.Y., owning that sign. Likewise, W3ADJ belonged to the University of Maryland in College Park, Md. Both were from 1929.

I dug a little deeper to learn if he possibly had been an amateur prior to 1924, but I saw 3ADJ licensed to Horace Derby of Norfolk, VA., 1920 through 1923.

His amateur radio interest appears to have started sometime after 1921 and a stint in U.S. Navy as a Seaman Second Class and then seems to have waned – at least license-wise – as marriage and the first of my aunts, uncles and my dad were being born.  I wonder if my dad had known about his dad’s radio hobby. In all the years I’ve been a licensed ham and bono fide radio nerd, he never mentioned it.

Of course, learning on this radio connection to my grandfather raised a host of other questions. Did he enjoy CW as much as I do? What kind of contacts was he making with 50 watts? Would he have admired the WAS and DXCC award certificates hanging on my wall? Would my hefty binder of shortwave QSL cards impressed him?

So, I’ll keep poking, looking for more radio connections. Who knows, maybe, somewhere, there’s a 3ADJ QSL signed by my grandfather.

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